Yeah, we know, New Year’s is over but in Russia, January 14th marks The Old New Year, an informal traditional Slavic Orthodox holiday. The Russian Old New Year celebrates the start of the New Year by the Julian calendar which the Russian Orthodox Church continued to use despite the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic’s adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1918. As a result, Russians celebrate both the “New” New Year as dictated by the Gregorian calendar (January 1st) and then the “Old” New Year on January 14. Generally the Old New Year is a nostalgic family holiday marked by large traditional meals, singing and celebratory drinking. This tradition is also celebrated throughout Eastern Europe in Serbia, Armenia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Republic of Macedonia.
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Halloween has its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain which means roughly, the end of summer. It’s also the name of Glenn Danzig‘s band after The Misfits, for all you lovers of horror-rock out there (see video below). Samhain usually lasted several days and had elements of other festivals’ for the dead. People and their livestock would walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual and cast the bones of slaughtered livestock into the flames. The first day of Samhain was October 31st and many of the traditions associated with Halloween come from both the secular Gaelic celebration of Samhain and the Catholic holiday All Saints Day. For example, trick-or-treating bears similarities to the medieval practice of souling, where peasants would go door to door on Hallowmas (November 1), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls’ Day (November 2). Similar practices for the souls of the dead were found as far south as Italy. In Mexican tradition, the Day of the Dead or Dia De Los Muertos (November 1) also shares similarities to Samhain and All Saints Day. Read the rest of this entry »